The Twenty-Fourth of June by Grace S. Richmond
Chapter VIII. Roses Red
It was certainly rather a curious coincidence that when Mr. Matthew Kendrick and his grandson Richard entered upon the scene of the Grays' Christmas Eve party it should be at the moment when Mr. Rufus Gray and his niece Roberta were dancing a quadrille together. Richard had just been received by his hosts and had turned from them to look about him, when his searching eye caught sight of the pair. This was the precise moment--he always afterward recalled it--when his heart gave its first great, disconcerting leap at sight of her, such a leap as he had never known could shake a man to the foundations.
He had never seen precisely this Roberta before; he explained it to himself in that way. It was a good explanation. Any sane man who saw her for the first time that night must instantly have fallen under her spell.
The Christmas party was the event of the year dearest to Roberta's heart. The planning for it, since she had been old enough to take her part, had been in her hands; it was she who was responsible for every detail of decoration. The great attic room, which was a glorious playroom the rest of the year, was transformed on Christmas into a fairyland. The results were brought about in much the same way as in other places of revelry, with lighting and draping and the use of evergreens and flowers; but somehow one felt that no drawing-room similarly treated could have been half so charming as the big attic spaces with their gables.
And the company! At first Richard saw only the pair who danced together in the quadrille. If he had glanced about him he might have observed that the gaze of nearly all who were not dancing was centred upon those two.
Uncle Rufus was the plumpest, jolliest, most altogether delightful specimen of the country gentleman that Richard had ever seen. His ruddy face was clean-shaven, his heavy gray hair waved a little with a boyish effect about his ears. He was carefully dressed in a frock coat of a cut not so ancient as to be at all odd, and it fitted his broad shoulders with precision. He wore a white waistcoat and a flowing black tie, which helped to carry out the impression of his being a boy whose hair had accidentally turned gray. As he danced he put every possible embellishment of posture and step into his task, and when he bowed to Roberta his attitude expressed the deepest reverence, offset only by his laughing face as he advanced to take her hand.
But as for the girl herself--what was she? A beauty stepping out of a portrait by one of the masters? She wore her grandmother's ball gown of rose-coloured brocade, and her hair was arranged in the fashion that went with it, small curls escaping from the knot at the back of her head, a style which set off her radiant face with peculiarly piquant effect. Her cheeks matched her frock, and her eyes--what were her eyes? Black stars, or wells of darkness into which a man might fall and drown himself?
She seemed to draw to herself, as she danced, among the soberer colours of her elders and the white frocks of the country cousins, all the light in the room. "I would look at something else if I could," thought Richard to himself, "but it would be only a blur to me after looking at her."
When Roberta returned Uncle Rufus's bow it was with a posturing such as Richard had seen only in plays; it struck him now that the graceful droop of her whole figure to the floor was the most perfect thing he had ever seen; and when her head came up and he saw her laughing face lift again to meet her partner's, he considered the boyish old gentleman who took her hand and led her on in the intricate figures of the dance a person to be envied.
"Aren't Rob and Uncle Rufus the greatest couple you ever laid eyes on?" exulted Louis Gray, coming up to greet him. "The next is going to be a waltz. Will you ask Mrs. Stephen? We'll let you begin easily, but shall expect you to end by dancing with Aunt Ruth, Uncle Rufus's wife--which will be no hardship when you really know her, I assure you. We indulge in no ultra-modern dances on Christmas Eve, you see, and have no dance-cards; it's always part of the fun to watch the scramble for partners when the number is announced."
So presently Richard found himself upon the floor with little Mrs. Stephen Gray, waltzing with her according to his own discretion, though all around them were dancers whose steps ranged from present-day methods to the ancient fashion of turning round and round without ever a reverse. He saw Roberta herself revolving in slow circles in an endless spiral, piloted by the proud arm of Mr. Philip Gray. She nodded at him past her uncle's shoulder, and he wondered seriously if she meant to dance with elderly uncles all the evening.
Before he could approach her she was off in the next dance with a young cousin, a lad of seventeen. Richard himself took out one of the country cousins to whom Mrs. Stephen had presented him, a very pretty, fair-haired girl in white muslin and blue ribbons; and he did his best to give her a good time. He found her pleasant company, as Mrs. Stephen had prophesied, and at another time--any time--before he came into the attic room to-night, he might have found no little enjoyment in her bright society. But in his present condition his one hope and endeavour was to get the queen of the revels, the rose of the garden, into his possession.
With this end in view he faithfully devoted himself to whatever partner was given him by Louis, who had taken him in charge and was enjoying to the full the spectacle of "Rich" Kendrick exerting himself, as he had probably never done before, to give pleasure to those with whom he was thrown. At last Fate and Roberta were kind to him. It was Louis, however, who manipulated Fate in his behalf.
Catching his sister as one of her cousins, a young son of Uncle Henry, released her, Louis drew her into a corner--as much of a corner as one could get into with a sister at whom, wherever she turned, half the company was looking.
"See here, Rob, you're not playing fair with the guest. Here's the evening half over and you haven't given him a solitary chance. What's the matter? You're not afraid of His Highness?"
"This is a dance for the uncles and cousins," retorted Roberta, "not for society young men."
"But he's done his duty like a man and a brother. He's danced with aunts and cousins, too, and has done it as if it were the joy of his life. But I know what he wants and I think he deserves a reward. The next waltz will be a peach, 'Roses Red.' Give it to the poor young millionaire, Robby; there's a good girl."
"Bring him here," said she with an air of resignation, and she turned to a group of young people who had followed her as bees follow their queen. "Not this time, dears," said she. "I'm engaged for this dance to a poor young man who has wandered in here and must be made to feel at home."
"Is that the one?" asked one of the pretty country cousins, indicating Richard, who, obeying Louis's beckoning hand, was crossing the floor in their direction. "Oh, you won't mind dancing with him. He's as nice as he is good-looking, too."
"I'm delighted to hear it," said Roberta.
The next minute "the poor young man" was before her. "Am I really to have it?" he asked her. "Will you give me the whole of it and not cut it in two, as I saw you do with the last one?"
"It would be rather a pity to cut 'Roses Red' in two, wouldn't it?" said she.
"The greatest pity in the world." He was looking at her cheek in the last instant before they were off. Talk of roses! Was there ever a rose like that cheek?
Then the music sent them away upon its wings and for a space measured by the strains of "Roses Red" Richard Kendrick knew no more of earth. Not a word did he speak to her as they circled the great room again and again. He did not want to mar the beauty of it by speech--ordinary exchange of comment such as dancers feel that they must make. He wanted to dream instead.
"Look at Rob and Mr. Kendrick," said Ruth in Rosamond's ear. "Aren't they the most wonderful pair you ever saw? They look as if they were made for each other."
"Don't tell Rob that," Rosamond warned her enthusiastic sister-in-law. "She would never dance with him again."
"I can't think what makes her dislike him so. Look at her face--turned just as far away as she can get it. And she never speaks to him at all. I've been watching them."
"It won't hurt him to be disliked a little," declared Mrs. Stephen wisely. "It's probably the first time in his life a girl has ever turned away her head--except to turn it back again instantly to see if he observed."
"What would Forbes Westcott say if he could see them? Do you know he's coming back soon? Then Rob will have her hands full! Do you suppose she will marry him?"
"Little matchmaker! I don't know. Nobody ever knows what Rob is going to do."
Nobody ever did, least of all her newest acquaintance. If he was to have a moment with her after the dance he realized that he must be clever enough to manage it in spite of her. He laid his plans, and when the last strains of "Roses Red" were hastening to a delirious finish he had Roberta at the far end of the room, at a point fairly deserted and close to one of the gable corners where rugs and chairs made a resting-place half hidden by a screen of holly.
"Please give me just a fraction of your time," he begged. "You've been dancing steadily all the evening; surely you're ready for a bit of quiet."
"I'm not as tired as I was before that dance," said she, and let him seat her, though she still looked like some spirited creature poised for flight.
"Aren't you really?" His face lighted with pleasure. "I feel as if I had had a draught of--well, something both soothing and exhilarating, but I didn't dare to hope you enjoyed it, too."
"Oh, yes, you did," said she coolly, looking up at him for an instant. "You know perfectly well that you're one of the best dancers who ever made a girl feel as if she had wings. Of course I knew you would be. The leader of cotillions--"
"That's the second time I've had that accusation flung at me under this roof," said he, and his face clouded as quickly as it had lighted. "I am beginning to wonder what kind of a crime you people think it to be a leader of cotillions. As a matter of fact, I'm not one, for I never accept the part when I can by any chance get out of it."
"You have the enviable reputation of being the most accomplished person in that role the town can produce. You should be proud of it."
He pulled up a chair in front of her and sat down, looking--or trying to look--straight into her eyes.
"See here, Miss Gray," said he with sudden earnestness, "if that's the only thing you think I can do you're certainly rating me pretty low."
"I'm not rating you at all. I don't know enough about you."
"That's a harder blow than the other one." He tried to speak lightly, but chagrin was in his face. "If you'd just added 'and don't want to know' you'd have finished your work of making me feel about three feet high."
"Would you prefer to be made to feel eight feet? Plenty of people will do that for you. You see I so often find a yardstick measures my own height, I know the humiliating sensation it is. And I'm never more convinced of my own smallness than when I see my uncles and their families at Christmas, especially Uncle Rufus. Do you know which one he is?"
"You were dancing with him when I came in."
"I didn't see you come in."
"I might have known that," he admitted with a rueful laugh. "Well, did you dance an old-fashioned square dance with him, and is he a delightful looking, elderly gentleman with a face like a jolly boy?"
"Exactly that--and he's a boy in heart, too, but a man in mind. I wonder if--"
"He'd care to meet me? I'm sure you weren't going to ask if I'd care to meet him. But I'd consider it an honour if he'd let me be presented to him."
"Now you're talking properly," said she. "It is an honour to be allowed to know Uncle Rufus, and I think you'll feel it so." She rose.
He got up reluctantly. "Thank you, I certainly shall," said he quite soberly. "But--must we go this minute? Surely you can sit out one number, and I'll promise after that to stand on my head and dance with a broomstick if it will please your guests."
"I've a mind to hold you to that offer," said she, with mischief in her eyes. "But the next number is the old-time 'Lancers,' and I'm needed. Should you like to dance it?"
"With you? I--"
"Of course not. With--well, with Aunt Ruth, Uncle Rufus's wife. You ought to know her if you're to know him. She's just a bit lame, but we always get her to dance the 'Lancers' once on Christmas Eve, and if you want the dearest partner in the room you shall have her."
"I'll be delighted, if you'll tell me how it goes. If it's like the thing I saw you dancing I can manage it, I'm sure."
"It's enough like it so you'll have no trouble. I'll dance opposite you and keep you straight. See here--" and she gave him a hasty outline of the figures.
His eyes were sparkling as he followed her out of the alcove. To be allowed to dance opposite Roberta and be "kept straight" by her through the figures of an unfamiliar, old-fashioned affair like the "Lancers" was a privilege indeed. He laughed to himself to think what certain people he knew would say to his new idea of privilege.
He bent before Mrs. Rufus Gray, offered her his arm, and took her out upon the floor, accommodating his step to the little limp of his partner. As he stood waiting with her he was observing her as he had never before observed a woman of her years. Of all, the sweet faces, of all the bright eyes, of all the pleasant voices--Aunt Ruth captured his interest and admiration from the moment when she first smiled at him.
He threw himself into the dance with the greatest heartiness. The music was played rather slowly, to give Aunt Ruth time to get about, and the result was almost the stately effect of a minuet. Never had he put more grace and finish into his steps, and when he bowed to Aunt Ruth it was as a courtier drops knee before a queen. His unfamiliarity with the figures gave him excuse to keep his eyes upon Roberta, and she found him a pupil to whom she had only to nod or make the slightest gesture of the hand to show his part.
"Did you ever see anything so fascinating as Aunt Ruth and Mr. Kendrick?" asked Mrs. Stephen in her husband's ear as they stood looking on.
"There's certainly no criticism of his manner toward her," Stephen replied. "I'll say for him that he's a pastmaster at adaptation. I'll wager he's enjoying himself, too. It's a new experience for the society youth."
"Stevie, why do you all insist on making a 'society youth' of him? It's his misfortune to have been born to that sort of thing, but I don't believe he cares half as much for it as he does for--just this sort."
"This is a novelty to him, that's all. And he's clever enough to see that to please Rob he must be polite to her family. Rob is the stake he's playing for--till some other pretty girl takes his fancy."
Rosamond shook her head. "You all do him injustice, I believe. Of course he admires Rob; men always do if they've any discrimination whatever. But--there are other things that appeal to him. Stephen"--her appealing face flushed with interest--"when you have a chance, slip out with Mr. Kendrick and take him upstairs to see Gordon and Dorothy asleep. I just went up; they look too dear!"
"Why, Rosy, you don't imagine he'd care--"
"Try him--just to please me. I could take him myself, but I'd rather you would. I want you to look at his face when he looks at them."
"He has got round you--" began her husband, but she made him promise.
When Stephen came upon Richard the guest was with Uncle Rufus and Aunt Ruth. The young man was entering with great spirit into his conversation with the pair, and they were evidently enjoying him.
"I'll have to give him credit for possessing genuine courtesy," thought Stephen.
At this moment a group of young people came up and demanded the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Gray in another part of the room, and Richard was set at liberty. Stephen took him by the arm.
"Before you engage again in the antic whirl I have a special exhibit to show you outside the ballroom. Spare me five minutes?"
"Spare you anything," responded the guest, following Stephen out of the room as if he wanted nothing so much as to do whatever might be suggested to him.
In two minutes they were downstairs and at the far end of a long corridor which led to the rooms in a wing of the big house occupied by the Stephen Grays. Richard was led through a pleasant living-room where a maid was reading a book under the drop-light. She rose at their appearance and Stephen nodded an "All right" to her. He conducted Richard to the door of an inner room, which, as he opened it, let a rush of cold air upon the two men entering.
"Turn up your collar; it's winter in here," said Stephen softly. He switched on a shaded light which revealed a nursery containing two small beds side by side. Two large windows at the farther end of the room were wide open, and all the breezes of the December night were playing about the sleepers.
The sleepers! Richard bent over them, one after the other, scanning each rosy face. The baby girl lay upon her side, a round little cheek, a fringe of dark eyelashes, and a tangle of fair curls showing against the pillow. The boy was stretched upon his back, his arms outflung, his head turned toward the light so that his face was fully visible. If he had been attractive with his wonderful eyes open, he was even more winsome with them closed. He looked the picture of the sleeping angel who has never known contact with earth.
"I thought he would never be done looking," Stephen acknowledged afterward when he told his exulting wife about the scene. "I was half frozen, but he acted like a man hypnotized. Finally he looked up at me. 'Gray, you're a rich man,' said he. 'I suppose you know it or you wouldn't have brought me up here to show me your wealth.' 'I believe I know it,' said I. 'What does it feel like,' he asked, 'to look at these and know they're yours?' I told him that that was a thing I couldn't express. 'Forgive me for asking,' said he. 'No man would want to try to express it--to another.' I began to like him after that, Rosy--I really did. The fellow seems to have a heart that hasn't been altogether spoiled by the sort of life he's lived. On our way upstairs he said nothing until we were nearly back to the attic. Then he put his hand on my arm. 'Thank you for taking me, Gray,' he said. I told him you wanted me to do it. He only gave me a look in answer to that; but I fancy you would have liked the look, little susceptible girl."
It was Ted who got hold of the guest next. "I hope you're having a good time, Mr. Kendrick," said the young son of the house, politely. "I've been so busy myself, dancing with all my girl cousins, I haven't had time to ask you."
"I've been having the time of my life, Ted. I can't remember when I've enjoyed anything so much."
"I saw you once with Rob. You're lucky to get her. She hasn't had time to dance once with me and I'd rather have her than any girl here, she's so jolly. She always keeps me laughing. You and she didn't seem to be laughing at all, though."
"Did we look so serious? Perhaps she felt like laughing inside, though, at my awkward steps."
Ted stared. "Why, you're a bully dancer," he declared. "What girl are you going to have for the Virginia reel? We always end with that--at twelve o'clock, you know."
"I haven't a partner, Ted. I wish you'd get me the one I want."
"Tell me who it is and I'll try. We're going down to bring up supper now, we fellows. Want to help?"
"Of course I do. How is it done?"
"Everything's in the dining-room and some of the younger ones go down. But we boys and men go and bring up everything for the older folks. Maybe I oughtn't to ask you, though," he hesitated. "You're company."
"Let me be one of the family to-night," urged Richard. "I'll bring up supper for Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Gray and pretend they're my aunt and uncle, too. I wish they were."
"I don't blame you; they are the jolliest ever, aren't they? Come on, then. Rosy's looking at us; maybe she'll tell you not to go."
They hurried away downstairs, racing with each other to the first floor.
"Hullo! you, too?" Louis greeted the guest from the farther side of the table filled with all manner of toothsome viands, where he was piling up a tray to carry aloft. "Glad to see you're game for the whole show. Take one of those trays and load it with discretion--weight equally distributed, or you'll get into trouble on the stairs. You're new at this job, and it takes training."
"I'll manage it," and the young man fell to work, capably assisted by a maid, who showed him what to take first and how to insure its safe delivery.
On his way up, walking cautiously on account of the cups of smoking bouillon which he was concerned lest he spill, he encountered a rose-coloured brocade frock on its way down.
"Good for you, Mr. Kendrick," hailed Roberta's voice, full and sweet.
He paused, balancing his tray. "Why are you going down? Won't you let me bring up yours when I've given this to Unc--to Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Gray?"
"Are you enjoying your task so well? Look out, keep your eye on the tray! There's nothing so treacherous to carry as cups so full as those."
"Stop laughing at me and I'll get through all right. All I need is a little practice. Next time I come up I'm going to try balancing the whole thing on my hand and carrying it shoulder-high."
"Please practice that some time when you're all alone in your own house."
"I'll remember. And please remember I'm going to bring up your supper--and my own. May we have it in the place where we were after the dance?"
"Yes, with six others who are waiting there already. That will be lovely, thank you. I'll be back by the time you have everything up."
"Of all the hard creatures to corner," thought Richard, going on upward with his tray. "Anyhow, I can have the satisfaction of waiting on her, which is better than nothing."
He found it so. The six people in the gable corner proved to be of the younger boys and girls, and, though they were all eyes and ears for himself and Roberta, he had a sufficient sense of being paired off with the person he wanted to keep him contented. They ate and drank merrily enough, and the food upon his plate seemed to Richard the best he had ever tasted at an affair of the kind.
The evening was gone before he knew it. He could secure no more dances with Roberta, but he had one with Ruth, during which he made up for his silence with her sister by exchanging every comment possible during their exhilarating occupation. He began it himself:
"It's a real sorrow to me, Miss Ruth, to be warned that this party is nearly over."
"Is it, Mr. Kendrick? It would be to me if to-morrow weren't Christmas Day. It's worth having this stop to get to that. You see, to-night we hang up our stockings."
"Good heavens, Miss Ruth--where? Not in front of any one chimney?"
"No, each in our own room, at the foot of the bed. The things that won't go into the stockings are on the breakfast-table."
"I'll think of you when I'm waking to my solitary dressing. I never hung up my stocking in my life."
"You haven't!" Ruth's tone was all dismay. "But you must have had heaps of Christmas presents?"
"Oh, yes, I've a friend or two who present me with all sorts of interesting articles I seldom find a use for. And when I was a little chap I remember they always had a tree for me."
"I don't care much for trees," Ruth confided. "I like them better in shop windows than I do at home. But to hang up your stocking and then find it all stuffed and knobby in the morning, with always something perfectly delightful in the toe for the very last! Oh, I love it!"
"I wish I were a cousin of yours, so I could look after that toe present myself," said Richard daringly.
"You do miss a lot of fun, not having a jolly family Christmas like ours."
"I'm convinced of it. See here, Miss Ruth, there's something I want you to do for me if you will. When you waken to-morrow morning send me--a Christmas thought. Will you? I'll be looking for it."
Ruth drew back her head in order to look up into his face for an instant. "A Christmas thought?" she repeated, surprised.
He nodded. "As if I were a brother, you know, far away at the other side of the world--and lonely. I'll really be as far away from all your merry-making as if I were at the other side of the world, you see--and I'm not sure but I'll be as lonely."
"Why, Mr. Kendrick! You--lonely! I can't believe it!" Ruth almost forgot to keep step in her surprise. "But--of course, just you and your grandfather! Only--I've heard how popular--"
She paused, not venturing to tell him all she had heard of his gay and fashionable friends and how they were always inviting and pursuing him. "Are you always lonely at Christmas?" she ended.
"Always; though I've never realized what was the matter with me till this year. Do you care about finishing this dance? Let's stop in this nice corner and talk about it a minute."
It was the same corner, deserted now, where he had twice tried to keep her elusive sister. Ruth was easier to manage, for she was genuinely interested.
"Just this year," he explained, "I've found out why I've never cared for Christmas. It's a beastly day to me. I spend it as I should Sunday--get through with it somehow. At last I go out to dinner somewhere in the evening, and so end the day."
"We all go to church on Christmas morning," Ruth told him. "That's a lovely way to spend part of the morning, I think. It gives you the real Christmas feeling. Don't you ever do it?"
He shook his head. "Never have; but I will to-morrow if you'll tell me where you go."
"To St. Luke's. The service is so beautiful, and we all have been there since we were old enough to go. I'm sure you'll like it. Wouldn't your grandfather like to go with you?"
Richard stared at her. "Why, I shouldn't have thought of it. Possibly he would. We never go anywhere together, to tell the truth."
"That's queer, when you're both so lonely. He must be lonely, too, mustn't he?"
"I never thought about it," said the young man. "I suppose he is. He never says so."
"You never say so either, do you?" suggested the girl naively.
The two looked at each other for a minute without speaking.
"Miss Ruth," said her companion at length, lowering his eyes to the floor and speaking thoughtfully, "I believe, to tell the truth, I'm a selfish beast. You've put a totally new idea into my head--more shame to me that it should be new. It strikes me that I'll try a new way of spending Christmas; I'll see to it that whoever is lonely grandfather isn't--if I can keep him from it."
"You can!" cried Ruth, beaming at him. "He thinks the world of you; anybody can see that. And you won't be lonely yourself!"
"Won't I? I'm not so sure of that--after to-night. But I admit it's worth trying. May I report to you how it works?" he asked, smiling.
Ruth agreed delightedly, and, when they separated, watched with interest to see that the new idea had already begun to work, as indicated by the way the younger Kendrick approached the elder, who was making his farewells.
"Going now, grandfather?" said he, with his hand on old Matthew Kendrick's arm. "We'll go together. I'll call James."
"You going too, Dick?" inquired his grandfather, evidently surprised. "That's good."
As he took leave of Roberta, Richard found opportunity to exchange with her ever so brief a conversation. "This has been quite a wonderful experience to me, Miss Gray," said he. "I shall not forget it."
Her eyes searched his for an instant, but found there only sincerity. "You have done your part better than could have been expected," she admitted.
"What grudging commendation! What should you have expected? That I should sulk in a corner because I couldn't have things all my own way?"
She coloured richly, and he rejoiced at having put her in confusion for an instant. "Of course not. But every one wouldn't have eyes to see the beauties of a family party where all the fun wasn't for the young people."
"There was only one dance I enjoyed better than the one with Mrs. Rufus Gray." He lowered his tone so that she could hear. "Since you have commended me for doing as your brother bade me--be all things to all partners--will you give me my reward by letting me tell you that I shall never hear 'Roses Red' again without thinking of the most perfect dance I ever had?"
"That sounds like an appropriate farewell from the cotillion leader," said Roberta. Then instantly she knew that in her haste to cover a very girlish sense of pleasure in the thing he had said she herself had said an unkind one. She knew it as a slow red came into her guest's handsome face and his eyes darkened. Before he could speak--though, indeed, he did not seem in haste to speak--she added, putting out her hand impulsively:
"Forgive me; I didn't mean it. You have been lovely to every one to-night, and I have appreciated it. I am wrong; I think you are much more--and have in you far more--than--as if you were only--the thing I said."
He made no immediate reply, though he took the hand she gave him. He continued to look at her for so long that her own eyes fell. When he did speak it was in a low, odd tone which she could not quite understand.
"Miss Gray," said he, "if you want to cut a man to the quick, insist on thinking him that which he has never had any love for being, and which he has grown to detest the thought of. But perhaps it's a salutary sort of surgery, for--by the powers! if I can't make you think differently of me it won't be for lack of will. So--thank you for being hard on me, thank you for everything. Good-night!"
As she looked at him march away with his head up, her hand was aching with the force of the almost brutally hard grip he had given it with that last speech. Her final glimpse of him showed him with a tinge of the angry red still lingering on his cheek, and a peculiar set to his finely cut mouth which she had never noticed there before. But, in spite of this, anything more courtly than his leave-taking of her mother and her Aunt Ruth she had never seen from one of the young men of the day.